Saturday, November 21, 2015

In praise of the spur trail
View east to Las Trampas ridge from Brittleleaf Trail at Anthony Chabot Regional Park

You probably hike past them all the time -- little path nubbins marked "not a through trail." We treat like them the side dishes at Thanksgiving; they are mostly ignored as we hike along enjoying the main course.

Is it worth expending extra effort on a spur? Most spurs lead to wonders: waterfalls, beaches, tall trees, and surprising views. Many lead to a destination end point, such as Haypress and Hawk campsites in Marin Headlands. A few are downright disappointing -- I'm looking at you Mt. Wittenberg. Some of the best I've hiked are Old Tree Trail in Portola Redwoods State Park, the triple threat of waterfall spurs at Uvas County County Park, Tomales Bay State Park beach spurs, and Alamere Falls at Point Reyes (the latter unfortunately currently inaccessible).
A spur path at Tomales Bay State Park leads to Pebble Beach

Sometimes, as I found recently at Chabot Park, the trail name gives away a surprise. I lingered at the junction with Brittleleaf Trail, a tiny spur off MacDonald Trail. I kept going but the name continued to poke at my brain until some synapses fired and I remembered that brittleleaf is a variety of manzanita. I know there are manzanita barrens north of Chabot in Huckleberry Preserve, but I had never seen one in Chabot. So on my way back I popped onto Brittleleaf Trail. Sure enough, the path ends at a rock formation surrounded by manzanitas. The sweeping view east (to Las Trampas ridge) were ample reward for taking a chance on a spur.

Now I'm wondering about spurs I've neglected or never considered. Lambert Creek Trail in Skyline Ridge? Lobitos Creek Trail at Purisima Creek Redwoods? Upper Ritchey Canyon Trail at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park? Bring on the rain, I've got some map reading and planning to do for spring!

Have you ever stumbled upon an interesting spur? Please comment!

5 comments:

finn said...

West Fossil Ridge and (for the unfaint of heart) Sentinel Rock, both near Mt. Diablo Rock City.

The "Outlook" spur at the top of Oil Canyon loop in the south end of Black Diamond Mines; the name's not given lightly.

Road to the navigation beacon off the westernmost part of Chalks Road (accessible from Whitehouse Canyon). Amazing 360.

Unmarked trail on south side of Olmo Fire Road in Butano SP, a short distance west of the Doe Ridge Trail junction. Beautiful view of Gazos Canyon.

... and starting down in that canyon, Old Woman Creek Road from the Cloverdale/Gazos Creek intersection to the "I'm really serious, no trespassing" fence.

Pereira Trail in the far west end of Briones.

Jane Huber said...

Wow Finn, great suggestions! The only one I've come close to is the Chalks -- I love it up there.

Thanks for sharing.

Naniwadekar said...

At Sierra Azul OSP, there is a 0.7 mile trail to Bald Mountain. It is more an out-and-back trail, rather than a spur. But if Lobitos Creek Trail at Purisima Park qualifies as a spur, so would this one. Your site bahiker-dot-com has a description for this hike, but while that write-up mentions a roadside pullout which you had used back in 2002, since late 2014 there is a now a proper parking lot 0.7 miles from Bald Mountain.

Mt El Sombroso at Sierra Azul is a 0.1 mile spur from Woods Trail. You walk 0.5 miles from the end of Kennedy Trail, and take the spur.

Yerba Buena Trail from Henry Coe HQ to Yerba Buena Campground is a little-used, and now mostly obscure 0.3 mile long spur. Even the people ar visitor centre can only point you in the general direction, but after the first 0.1 mile, the trail is easier to follow.

Wood Canyon Pond and Fish Pond to the south of Hunting Hollow Rd in Henry Coe State Park are intersting spurs, somewhat poorly marked, and the trails to the ponds are strewn with poison oak.

Willson Peak at Henry Coe (notice the double-ell in the name, it's NOT Wilson with single-ell) has two USGS markers. That peak can be reached only by taking a 0.05 mile long spur to it.

Antler Point at Grant Ranch is reached via a spur.

Peter McCluskey said...

I'll suggest that the most under-appreciated spur trail is Quarry Rd (off of Wise Rd in the Mt Diablo Three Springs area). It goes to what seems like an uninteresting remnant of a quarry in the dry season. But after heavy rains there's a 32 foot waterfall near the edge of the quarry that's almost as nice as the Donner canyon waterfalls.

Jane Huber said...

Peter -- thanks for the tip!